Researching Foundations

by Anne Maertz, CVT Manager of Institutional Relations

The first step to raising funds from foundations is to research them.  Look for foundations that have an interest in your organization’s type of work.  Try using the Foundation Center’s keyword search website.  Try terms like “mental health” or “refugees.”  Then check out any that are in your geographic area.  Also, review funder lists in the annual reports of organizations that carry out similar work.  Most foundations will expand their support to additional organizations if they really care about a cause.   You can look up individual foundations on the Foundation Center’s 990 finder.  A 990 is a foundation tax return that can give you a wealth of information, especially on smaller foundations that do not have websites.  For instance, who is on the board?  How large are they in terms of assets?  Have their assets risen or fallen (which has implications for their grant making)?  Who did they make grants to last year, and what is their typical grant size?   You may want to make a “rough cut” list to start.  Next month: How to prioritize and manage foundation prospects.       

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